Editors' ChoiceRegenerative Medicine

Keep Monkeying Around

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Science Translational Medicine  28 Apr 2010:
Vol. 2, Issue 29, pp. 29ec66
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001195

Stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine are trendy topics that hold great promise for the future. Pluripotent stem cells theoretically have the ability to differentiate into any cell type in the body; however, adult pluripotent stem cells are rare, and the use of embryonic stem cells is a source of medical, legal, and ethical debate. In contrast, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are a type of pluripotent stem cell artificially derived from a nonpluripotent cell (typically an adult somatic cell) through the induced expression of certain “reprogramming” genes. However, before this technology can be used in humans, a suitable translational model is needed.

Now, Wu et al. demonstrate the feasibility of this technology in a nonhuman primate model by deriving iPSCs from newborn marmoset skin fibroblasts. Specifically, a retroviral transduction system was used to derive clones of cells expressing human Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc. The clones fulfilled reprogramming criteria in that they exhibited typical iPSC morphology, displayed alkaline phosphatase activity (a marker of pluripotency), expressed pluripotency markers at levels comparable with that in human embryonic stem cells, and were immunoreactive for plasma membrane markers of pluripotency. Moreover, when implanted in immunodeficient mice, the iPSCs produced teratomas that had derivatives of all three embryonic germ layers.

These findings provide “proof of principle” that iPSC technology can be adapted for use in nonhuman primates and demonstrate the feasibility of using nonhuman primates as a translational model for future autologous cell therapy research. Given the similarities between nonhuman primate and human anatomy and physiology, future findings about such cells are likely to be applicable to human health.

Y. Wu et al., Generation of induced pluripotent stem cells from newborn marmoset skin fibroblasts. Stem Cell Res. 6 March 2010 (10.1016/j.scr.2010.02.003). [Abstract]

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